Frankenstein | Study Guide

Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein | Chapter 23 (Volume 3, Chapter 7) | Summary

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Summary

For months, Victor chased the Monster across the globe, the desire for revenge keeping him alive. He first spent the night in the Genevan cemetery, where the Monster overheard and "mocked" him for making a vow to "pursue the daemon." Victor went on the Rhone, to the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, to Russia, but the Monster was always one step ahead. Victor ate food left by what he thought were benevolent "spirits" (later revealed as the Monster) and dreamed about his dead family and friends. The Monster goaded Victor with messages carved into trees and cut into stone. Victor and the Monster reached the Arctic. Victor, learning from Russian villagers the Monster had stolen food and a dogsled to take him over the ice floes, bought a dogsled and followed. Victor was not sure how much longer he could survive the brutal conditions, but he pressed on nonetheless. After days of pursuit, Victor saw and then got tantalizingly close to the Monster, but they were ultimately separated by the cracking ice.

About to die, Victor was found and rescued by Robert Walton. He explained why he needed a northbound ship: to continue after the Monster. Knowing he is still close to death, after finishing his narrative, Victor makes Walton swear that if he (Victor) dies, Walton will kill the Monster.

Analysis

In effect, Victor has become the Monster, willing to die to enact his revenge. He has become stripped of his humanity and has only a tenuous grip on reality and sanity.

One message the Monster leaves for Victor during their chase across the north reads, "My reign is not yet over," a reference to Satan's statement in Paradise Lost "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven." This connection elevates the struggle to an epic, Biblical level. Furthering this connection, Victor tells Walton, "The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil." Of course, if Victor has become the Monster, that makes him like Satan too, reinforcing that symbolic connection.

The Monster's leaving both food and messages for Victor throughout the chase reflects his dual nature. The food sustains Victor, keeping him alive—the Monster provides more support to his creator than that creator ever gave him—but it also reinforces the taunting tones of the messages he leaves. The Monster is toying with Victor, leading him on. He indeed has become Victor's master—or at the least the master of this situation.

Gothic elements are brought into this final part of the novel through several details. They include the fierce, isolated Arctic environment and the Monster's supernatural tracking abilities, as he leads Victor on a chase to the roof of the world.

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